We asked the Danish duo about their latest album and facing the unknown in life.
It should go without saying that most things in life are never black and white. The older we get, the more we realize that the simplicity we once knew inevitably transforms into dense knots of life experience, increased responsibilities and overlapping histories of those around us. It’s a complexity nearly impossible to articulate with words—which is why it’s a relief when somebody articulates it not with language, but with music. That’s what Josephine Philip and Ina Lindgreen – the two women who make up Danish electropop duo Darkness Falls – are attempting to do with their latest album, Dance And Cry. We took some time to chat with Josephine and Ina about making the album, the sound that resulted and their relationship.
Polina Bachlakova: Hi, Josephine and Ina. Tell me about your new album, Dance And Cry. Was there a theme or idea behind it?
Josephine Philip: When we started out making the album, we had some ideas but the most important thing was that it’s not looking back but looking ahead. We tried to make something that describes where we are right now in our lives.
PB: What was your recording process like?
JP: We spent a lot of time thinking about what the new sound should be like and of course we spent a lot of time in the studio, but we also went away in a summer house for a week and just started working with a routine. We’d go out running, have a swim, get started at 9 in the morning and end at 11 or 12 at night. After that, we pretty quickly chose that we wanted to call the album Dance And Cry because it really shows where we are right now—showing the duality of life. We aren’t 19 anymore, we know there’s both good and bad in life and sometimes, you’ll go through a hard period but you know you’ll come out stronger on the other side.
PB: What about this moment in time made you more introspective about the duality of life?
Ina Lindgreen: When we would meet in the studio talking about our private situations and what affects us, some themes suddenly came into the music and the lyrics, the same as in the talks we had about our personal lives. Along the way, it kind of happens and suddenly we found a red thread. The art you make always reflects the life you’re living. Being in your 30s is a big change for us as well; new questions are coming up.
PB: How would you describe the sound that came out of it?
JP: It definitely has some of our signature sound. It’s very atmospheric and melancholic but also hopeful. And that’s what I mean in the sense of the lyrics—it shows the duality of life, the good and the bad. It’s the same with the music.
IL: It’s neither sad music or really happy dance music, but we found out that this music really touched the both of us. It makes you want to groove and to feel something crying inside—we aren’t just sitting in a room with an acoustic guitar. The electronic feel makes it more clubby, but then it still has roots in this old school singer songwriter style. So that’s also a contrast.
PB: What about your interpersonal dynamic—how do you two work together?
JP: It’s quite funny because we can disagree on many things but we always agree on the music. I think that’s also why our collaboration is very special; of course people collaborate with each other all the time, but for us it’s very strange because we always agree on the music.
IL: Josephine is really progressive and thinking big thoughts while I tend to take it down to earth a little bit. Josephine helps me take chances and do things I wouldn’t do myself.
JP: We produced this album with two guys and when we were sitting with the final mixing, we might as well have just had one of us there. It was like two bodies, one mind.
PB: How did you guys get together anyways?
IL: We both had this dream of doing something completely different from what we’d been doing before, and then we found out that we both wanted to do everything ourselves. We wanted to be able to create the sound we wanted on our own. We had never tried to produce anything before – we used to play together in an all girl ska band with six people and of course, the sound was of six people playing live. When it’s just two people, it’s like creating a universe or a soundscape instead of just being a band playing good songs.
JP: In the beginning we didn’t have a lot of instruments so our disadvantage became an advantage, in a way. And then we worked together with Trentemøller for our first album; he produced it which was super fun because he really liked this lo-fi thing that we had going on. This time for the second album we worked with Adrian Aurelius and Lasse Martinussen, and that has also been a great experience.
PB: Since Darkness Falls is very much your own baby, how does working with a producer take you outside of your comfort zone?
JP: I look at a producer as an add-on. We personally take our material as far as we can and that could be enough, but the fun thing when you work with other people is that you do things you couldn’t think of by yourself. Or you only think of them if they’re by your side.
IL: Sometimes you need a third opinion to find out that the opinion you had doesn’t work. We’re very critical of ourselves. Producers are a good add-on—it’s like having somebody to listen, take it in another direction and then take it back again.
JP: It’s a very fun process, working together with all these other people. As we did with the first album, you have an idea of what it’s like to collaborate with a producer and then you find out it’s different every time. Everybody has their way of being creative and making music so it’s been very interesting and fun.
IL: You think you’re weaker at some points but then you work with different people and find out it’s not like that at all. People bring out different things within you. You also look at yourself a different way, so it’s good to have new eyes and ears on the way you work.
PB: To what extent does your audience’s response influence how happy you are with your music?
JP: Of course it’s important. When we make an album, of course we’re happy about it. Every time you put out some new music, you never know what’s going to happen. Maybe it’ll come out and nobody will listen to it; maybe the one song you didn’t expect would be successful, everybody will listen to. You never know what’s going to happen but it makes you so happy when you have fans who are excited about you coming out with a new album. You feel like you’re going in the right direction because you don’t make music just to please someone else. That’s also why we want to share this project with the most people we can and want to go all over the world. Our dream is to tour all over the US. That’s the next goal—to get even further away with our music.